Books and Reading Thursday: Tackling The List!

I have been absolutely terrible at reading lately. There are no excuses for it really, though I have been spending nearly every minute of my time working on Diving in Deep, so it’s not just ‘cause I was being lazy 😀

The thing is, I love reading! So I really need to get back to it.

I still have a goal I want to reach this year, and I am determined to do it. Also I have a backlog of review requests I need to get through, as well as a whole load of books I am really looking forward to reading.

I said in a post early this year that I was going to organise my reading list, and I did the first 5 books and that was brilliant ‘cause I actually got through them.

And then I didn’t organise the rest and that’s when my reading tapered off.

So, guess what?

I’ve set out a bit more of my list in hopes I can start reading again.

1. Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff (Book Review Request)
2. The Fifth Watcher: Worlds Apart Series – Book 1 by Melissa Barker-Simpson
3. The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
4. Serenity: Those Left Behind
5. The Clique by Valerie Thomas (Book Review Request)
6. Seeking Solace by Callum McLaughlin
7. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
8. Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty
9. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
10. Chef d’Amour by Brenda Margriet (Book Review Request)

Yes, I have organised 10 books on the list this time, and I’m a slow reader so that should keep me going for a while.

Hope everyone else is having fun with their reading! 🙂

What are you currently reading? Any good book recommendations?

Progress Report:

Status of Diving in Deep: Finishing touches!

Books read towards challenge: 4/50
Currently reading: Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff

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Books and Reading… Not Thursday! :D

I’m a day late, sorry!

Still, here’s my first book review of the year! Yay, I’m finally getting somewhere on my to-do and to-read list 😀

Thyme in a Flask by Glen Quarry

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.*

Goodreads Summary: Jon Chandler is a seventeen-year-old youngster presented with a difficult quest-to find a magical flask, destroy it, and then somehow find his way back home.
As Jon reluctantly accepts his responsibility, he is accompanied by the haughty yet beautiful Dorthea, who constantly challenges him. At least his best friend, Samuel, a gentle giant-all eight feet in stature and 480 pounds of him-doesn’t get under his skin like Dorthea does.
But there’s a fine line between love and hate, and Jon and Dorthea hover on it constantly!
Samuel is left behind as the quest leads Jon and Dorthea into a parallel world, where few living people have ever gone before. How can they locate a flask that has been missing for sixteen years?
Along the way, they encounter demons and wizards who will test their strength and ability, and they find they must solve several riddles before they can return home. What they learn about themselves and about life is far more priceless than the magical flask.

From the start this book had a very old-time, classic, fairytale feel about it. I think that kind of writing, which I haven’t read in quite some time, felt almost like being sucked in as though it were a bedtime story.

The writing was engaging, and the story was filled with great settings, a variety of sub-plots, and interesting characters.

I have to admit Samuel was probably my favourite character of the lot 😀 He had a sort of down-to-earth personality which I hooked onto immediately.

But the writing throughout this and the feel of that classic fantasy just held my interest until the end.

It is one of those stories that I enjoyed but can’t really talk about for fear of giving away spoilers as there was so much packed into this book! You can be certain of plenty of fantastical creatures and memorable moments throughout though.

I will admit I found it a bit overwhelming to keep up with so much to begin with, but the further I got pulled into the book, the easier my mind just flowed with the story and I found my imagination going into overdrive there was just so much to think of.

It is a more in-depth book, one you probably would have to give a bit of time to (at least for me anyway), but the flow and writing were easy to read, which certainly helped to keep me going and wanting to find out more about the array of characters and plots within this novel.

Overall, it’s a great read with a real fairytale, class fantasy feel about it. Anyone who enjoys this genre should definitely give this book a look!

Smashwords
Goodreads

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 37,524 (+2832 since last check-in).

Books read towards challenge: 3/50
Currently reading: Snow Hill by Mark Sanderson

Books and Reading Thursday: Enjoying your own creations

Bit of strange post for this week’s Books and Reading Thursday!

I saw a quote on Pinterest the other day which pretty much summed up part of the reason I started writing:

‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ – Toni Morrison

I write because I have stories that I want to read all bundled up in my brain and I just have to expel them 😀

So, I write these tales that I am so desperate to read and then what happens?

I have to re-write and edit them so much that the thought of reading them again makes me want to start rocking in a corner somewhere mumbling to myself!

But in April, I plan to re-edit and refresh the books I published last year in time for their one year anniversary. I learnt tons last year, not just about writing itself, but about the whole publishing process.

A while back, Sierra from Permashift, updated her book, The Soul (a book I highly recommend checking out), and I realised how much I also wanted to go over my older books and give them an update.

But, at the same time, I am also kind of excited to go back and read them.

I know I will be doing some editing and re-writing, but there won’t be too much (I hope 😀 ), so I’m hoping I will be able to read the books mainly for the stories I was so desperate to write in the first place.

The main books I will be refreshing are Stolen Bloodline, Heart of the Arena, and The Queen’s Jester, my first batch of books I ever published. I will also be going over Prophecy of Stones and The Magic Spark, but probably later in the year.

It’s getting on for a year since I published those first three books, and though some of the writing might make me cringe, I am hoping that the long time away will allow me to once again enjoy these stories and characters that I spent so long creating.

So, April is going to be a busy month getting all the books updated whilst writing a new one, but a fun month nonetheless 🙂

I highly recommend going back and reading the stories you spent so long creating, especially if you haven’t looked at them in a while. It might be difficult to read them without completely turning off the nagging voice inside that tells you bits you could have improved and things, but you worked hard on those characters and stories, why not go back and enjoy them after you’ve had some time apart? 😀

Do you enjoy going back and reading your own books? Do you ever miss the stories you wrote years before?

Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty

So today I am really excited to host a couple of fellow bloggers who have collaborated on a book!

These bloggers are the wonderful Ali Isaac, and the amazing Jane Dougherty!

Now, I have to say, when I saw this book was coming out I got very excited. I love Ali’s posts she does on the mythical, and I always adore Jane’s writing, so when I saw the announcement of this book, my reaction was:

give

The book is called, Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth.

And it comes with stunning cover art!

grocover

It’s will be available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in the release which is 11th February.

Normal price 99c/ 99p FREE Wed 11th Feb – Sun 15th Feb

When I offered to host the book on my blog (because again, am very excited to read it!), I was interested to know why they wrote it together.

Why did we write this book together?

Ali: We had already become friends through our blogs. I had this idea of re-telling stories from Irish mythology kicking around in my head for a long time, in fact, I had been incorporating some of them into my Conor Kelly books. It turned out that Jane, too, had already been re-writing her favorite myths. It just seemed natural that we would join forces and work on a compilation together. The first stories we worked on and subsequently revealed to each other just happened to be the most tragic ones, the love stories, perhaps because we connected in some way with the characters and what happened to them. We noticed the theme, and thought it would be fun to launch them for Valentine’s Day. That was in November, so we had to work fast… the Christmas and New Year celebrations held things up, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it!

Jane: I started these retellings about a year ago with the story of Deirdre. It was cold, we had had a flurry of snow for about five minutes that had everybody gazing in wonder up at the sky, and the blackbirds were taken by surprise and fussed about in the trees. Something in the combination made me think of Deirdre and her feelings as a young girl kept in seclusion, just waiting to be married to an old king. One story led to another, and when Ali, at the end of last year suggested we have a go at rewriting some of these tragic stories, I knew I could do it. Tragic usually means love stories. Love stories means Valentine’s Day. Our collection had to be ready for February 14th. And it is!

Blurb

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology. They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

Excerpt

From the Story of Baile and Aillinn

Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.
Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

Introduction

Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty are writers with a shared heritage. Ali has woven that heritage into the fabric of her stories about Conor Kelly and his adventures in the Otherworld. Jane consistently slips references to the old stories and the old heroes into all of her novels.

This collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish mythology is our tribute to this culture which has so captivated us.
Love in the Iron Age, as you will see, did not have the benefit of Disney. The Ancient Irish had to contend with far more violence than modern lovers, and their ideas of what constituted happiness were not necessarily the same as ours. An Irish princess was not going to languish at the top of an ivory tower waiting for a knight in shining armour. She was much more likely to get on her horse and drag him out of his bed with a curse if he hung about too long.

But in many ways, love through the ages has not changed one iota. Grief, sorrow and passion are all there in spadesful.

If the only thing you know about Irish mythology is Saint Patrick, serpents, and Leprechauns, it’s about time you read this collection. If you like what you see, this could be the start of a life changing experience.

Links

Jane can be found on her blog, www.janedoughertywrites.com, on her FaceBook author page, or tweeting.
You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

You will find Ali pottering about most days on her blog: www.aliisaacstoryteller.com, her Facebook author page, or tweeting.
Alternatively, you can email her at: ali@aliisaacstoryteller.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

So why not check out not only this incredible book, but these amazing authors? 🙂

This book is definitely on my TBR list, and I will be doing a review for it after reading!

*This is a scheduled post and I will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!* 🙂

Books and Reading Thursday: Two birds, one stone…

So, as you might have read, I have currently been reading and completing the first practical writing craft book on my TBR list.

And I have to say it’s brilliant! The confidence it has boosted in me as a writer is amazing, and it’s really helping me to see what I’m capable of.

In fact, it has been so awesome I have made the decision to always have a writing craft book on the go.

Now, I have said before that I’m not very good at reading two books at a time, but seeing as I will be reading a fiction and non-fiction, I think I can probably manage that. It will also mean I will be able to get through my TBR list a little faster!

I will also be doing it this way partly so as I can get back to reading fiction, which I am really missing! I will be reading the next book on my list, which is The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, which I will do a post about another week.

To any writers reading this, I highly recommend trying out some practical writing exercises either by finding them online or by getting a book. My word, I cannot begin to say the amount of confidence in my abilities it has given me!


Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft again, finally!
Word count: 2523

Books read towards challenge: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.

Books and Reading Thursday: Books on my Bookshelf

(Books on my Bookshelf is not a review, just my personal thoughts, feelings, and memories on the books I own).

Another book for this series 😀

This week I have chosen, Magic Kingdom for Sale- Sold! By Terry Brooks.

magickingdom

Nice chapter headings!

Nice chapter headings!

I actually didn’t realise this was the first book in a series until recently, so I might have to g check out the rest.

I got this book for free because someone I knew quite a few years ago was having a big turn out, and I saw this in his pile of ‘rubbish’ and it caught my interest.

Not only because the title looked great fun, but because of how well read it looked! I figured any book that looked like it had been opened over and over again had to be a good read.

So he let me have it, and it sat on my bookshelf for a couple of years longer until I finally got around to it.

One of my main memories of this book is that it was a major slog to get through the first few chapters. I mean, seriously a slog. It probably wasn’t like that for a lot of people, but I’m not very good with books that don’t start the story or action within a couple of chapters. I lose interest with all the scene setting and background setting.

I get that it has to be done sometimes, especially in series, but it didn’t help that the main character’s background that was being set up was really rather depressing!

But, I managed to churn my way through the chapters and I’m glad I stuck with it! It was a great read, and was packed with a great deal of fun as the cover and title hinted at.

I also have to say it’s one of those books that really inspired me to want to write my own books. I love those stories where someone goes from a hum-drum life and is thrown into a new world of adventure and excitement (that also might have something to do with all the fairytales my mum read me as a kid, it really spurred my imagination!).

Those books where an ordinary person is thrown into another world just is such a great parllel to readers.

You pick up a book and, as the reader, you’re like the character being thrown into this whole new world and story to enjoy. And sometimes it can be just as confusing, but also incredible!

But that’s what books do and why we read them, right? To let ourselves be taken somewhere else for a few hours, away from the hum-drum of everyday life.

So, yeah, it was a book that I definitely remember for the slow start, but also the incredible adventure that lay beyond it.

Random quote: “Ben grimaced. Wonderful. Just tap the red shoes together three times and repeat, ‘There’s no place like home.’ Off he would go, back to Kansas. Just wonderful.”

Favourite thing about the book: The story of the ordinary being thrown into the extraordinary. It was definitely one that got my imagination and creativeness pumping!

Least favourite thing: The incredibly slow start. My word. Ugh.

Something I took away from the book: That I shouldn’t be afraid to write the story I want to, even if it seems outlandish. You just got to write it!

Have you read any books with a slow start but a great story? Do you enjoy these kind of fish out of water tales?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: A bit up in the air!
Word count: … Don’t ask.

Books read towards goal: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.

Books and Reading Thursday: Books on my Bookshelf

(Books on my Bookshelf is not a review, just my personal thoughts, feelings, and memories on the books I own).

This week I thought I’d share a book I got for Christmas/Birthday!

Dragon Age: Library Edition (Includes The Silent Grove, Those Who Speak, and Until We Sleep).

da1

As you may have guessed by now (for anyone who’s followed my blog for a while), I have a thing for the Dragon Age series of games by Bioware. I won’t call it an obsession, mainly because it’s so far past that point by now…

Anyways, my best friend bought me this for Christmas/Birthday, and it was seriously a very happy surprise, especially as it arrived on the day I was getting my new PS4 and the game, so it was very well timed!

I remember I was really upset when the book was released earlier in 2014 as I couldn’t afford to buy it, so receiving it was more than a little exciting as you can imagine!

I read through this in an afternoon. I couldn’t put it down. Not only were the stories amazing, but the artwork was stunning, and I loved the artist and editors notes down the sides of the pages. Reading about their insights into how they set up the stories, or why they chose certain panels or dialogue really got me thinking about my own writing and how I set it out. I know it’s different formats, but it’s all about storytelling, right?

It’s going on my TBR list again, so as I can re-read it this year 😀

Stunning artwork!

Stunning artwork!

Artist and editor notes down the side were great insight!

Artist and editor notes down the side were great insight!

Random quote: ‘Long live the King! Long may he reign! And so forth. Pray to the Maker he doesn’t do something stupid…’

Favourite thing about the book: Apart from the fact it has returning characters from the games? 😀 It was laid out in a great, easy to read format, which kept me turning the pages.

Least favourite thing: Um, there is a moment that I thought was a bit out of character for one of the characters. But that’s pretty much it, I loved it all!

Something I took away from the book: The way the pages were laid out really got me thinking about the way I end chapters in my own books, and how to keep the reader turning the pages!

Have you read many graphic novels? Do you enjoy reading different types of storytelling?

Progress Report (I know, I forgot on Tuesday!)

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Daily word count: 913.

Books read towards goal: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.